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The World Wide Web: It's Not Just for Surfing Anymore

Gordon F. M. Rakita

Until quite recently, web surfing by students was a technique for avoiding the completion of homework, the ever-increasing piles of assistantship tasks, or studying for impending comprehensive exams. Now, however, the web is more than a source of entertainment or procrastination; it has become a repository for valuable archaeological resources. These resources include on-line texts, databases, and other information files, as well as software and services.

In archaeology, the phrase "publish or perish" has quickly come to apply not only to full-time professionals but to students as well. We are frequently reminded that our future employment possibilities (academic or not) are determined in part by our publication record. However, few of us have either large data sets or the time to acquire them through laboratory studies. How are we to publish meaningful analytical works without data? The answer lies in the growing number of databases maintained on-line. Excellent examples include: the site data from the American Southwest originally published in Michael Adler's The Prehistoric Pueblo World, A.D. 1150-1350 [] and the miscellaneous paleoclimatological data available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [http://www.ngdc.oaa.govpaleo/paleo.html] including prehistoric tree-ring records and deep-sea sediment cores. For those who are more bioarchaeologically minded Internet resources include the Human Genome Database [] and W. W. Howell's assembled craniometric data [].

Alternatively, general information on a variety of topics lies within a few mouse-clicks. Most geographic or cultural regions have extensive web files. The ones organized for the Southwest are particularly comprehensive []. Radiocarbon dating is another well-documented subject with multiple sites [ is an exceptional place to start]. For those who are undergoing the trials of comprehensive exams, the University of Washington's list of exam questions offers a very useful study aid []. Even those who are just now beginning their education or beginning to educate others will find something of interest in the Introduction to Archaeology syllabus of John Hoopes of the University of Kansas [].

Many national organizations have web pages with a variety of useful offerings. The U.S. Geological Survey operates a web site with maps from across the country []. The National Academy of Sciences maintains pages relating to the activities of their Committee on Women in Science and Engineering []. For those who are planning on submitting proposals to the National Science Foundation, application forms are available from their site (in Microsoft Word format) and may even be submitted electronically []. Archaeologically related software applications are also available on-line. For example the Quaternary Isotope Laboratory's Radiocarbon calibration program CALIB is available from its pages []. Finally, don't forget SAA's own pages [] for information an the association's publications, committees, and annual meeting.

In short, the web is no longer a place to waste time. As more and more truly useful resources become available, the web is quickly becoming an indispensable tool for archaeologists. While virtual reality will never supersede getting your hands dirty (be it in a two-by-two or with a pair of calipers), it will contribute significantly to future research in the discipline.

As for Student Affairs...

Our call for campus representatives has been quite successful so far, but many states and universities are still underrepresented. We need input from all SAA student members! To that end, we are still looking for graduate and undergraduate students to serve as campus representatives. Information on the "position" is available inthe September 1996 issue of the SAA Bulletin [14(4): 22].

Thank you for making our workshops at the 1997 SAA Annual Meeting in Nashville a great success!! If you have a specific workshop topic you are interested in for 1998 or are interested in the work of the committee, please feel free to contact any of the members or contact the committee chair.

Gordon F. M. Rakita is at the University of New Mexico and works for the Student Affairs Committee

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